Everything Changes

***This post was written by Pastor Robbie Ashlock***

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”         -Acts 4:13

Jesus, no other name compares.  Jesus, there’s just something about that name.  Jesus, the sweetest name I know.  Jesus, the name at which every knee will bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.  What is it about Jesus that changes a person?  What would cause men to leave everything they have to follow Him?  What would cause those who had at one time denied even knowing Him to boldly proclaim His name, even in the face of death?
 
It was a quiet night; thankfully, Peter and the other disciples could have used a quiet night.  The past few days had been a whirlwind of emotions.  In just a few days, their entire world had turned upside down. Their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, had been crucified and buried, but now He had risen from the dead!  The grave could no longer hold Him and He was alive!  
           
You would think that this would be an amazing time of celebration and joy, but Peter really doesn’t feel like celebrating. Something is bothering him.  He feels restless and decides to get his mind off things.  “I am going fishing,” he tells the others.  Maybe his plan is to be alone with his thoughts, but it doesn’t work.  The other disciples decide to tag along.  They spend the night out on the lake, but they don’t catch a thing.  Absolutely nothing.  
           
What would send Peter back to the boat?  Think about it.  Three years ago he gave up everything to follow Jesus.   He even stepped out of the boat to walk on water in the middle of a raging storm just to be with Jesus.  He was one of Jesus’ closest companions. And now that Jesus had proven without a doubt that He was the Son of God by rising from the dead, Peter was back in the boat.  Why wasn’t Peter out proclaiming the Good News?  What would send Peter back to the starting line?  He should have been out running the race; instead, he was hiding out on a boat.  What was keeping him from going to the farthest corners of the planet to tell everyone that Jesus is alive.  

One word: REGRET.  Peter couldn’t let go of the past.  He couldn’t let go of the fact that when Jesus had needed him the most he wasn’t there.  He couldn’t get over the memories that when a little girl challenged his faith, he denied even knowing Jesus.  Not just once, but three times he turned his back on the Savior of the world.  The regret must have been unbearable.  Have you ever been weighed down by regret?  You do everything in your power to distract yourself, but nothing works.  No matter what you do, your thoughts and regrets are right there with you.  

So here Peter is back in the boat.  Surrounded by friends, but all alone in his thoughts.  What could he have been thinking?  “He’s alive, Jesus is alive.  But how can I look Him in the face?  I denied even knowing Him.”  “My Jesus is alive, but what would He want with me?  I couldn’t even stand up to a little girl.  How could I ever look Him in the eyes again?” He spends the night out their on the rolling waves with nothing to rescue him from the pain of regret.

But suddenly a familiar voice calls out across the water. “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.  “Then throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”  When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then John says to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  Without a second thought Peter jumps into the water and starts swimming towards Jesus.  He’s had enough with regret.  It’s time to lay it all down.  

A little later we see Peter and Jesus having breakfast together on the shoreline.  One of the most beautiful conversations in all of Scriptures is about to take place. Jesus loving looks into the eyes of his broken fisherman, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he says, “You know that I love you.”  Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”  Again Jesus says, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”  Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  “That’s great, Peter,” Jesus says, “Take care of my sheep.”  A third time He says to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  This time Peter is cut to the bone because He asks him a third time, “DO YOU LOVE ME?”  Peter, with tears in his eyes replies, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” “Then feed my sheep.”  

This moment doesn’t happen for Jesus’ sake.  He doesn’t need to be reminded that Peter loves Him.  He knows it. But Peter needs to be reminded, not that Jesus loves him, but that He loves Jesus.  The thing about regret is that it causes us to question everything good about ourselves.  When we fail to measure up or do the right thing, regret comes storming in to destroy us. Regret tells us we are not enough. Regret tells us we don’t love enough, care enough or try enough.  Regret cuts us off at the knees.  

Jesus knew exactly what Peter was struggling with. He knew the hold that regret had on his life.  He knew that Peter needed to remember how much he really did love his Savior.  No matter what the past was telling him. Suddenly regret had no hold on Peter’s life and he was free to live for Christ.  Listen to Peter’s testimony in Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
           
What hold does regret have on your life?  What are you stuck in the boat struggling with? It’s time to dive into the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Allow Him to love you.  Remember that no matter how far you have fallen, He is still yours.  You still love Him.  He knows that.  Do you? Then feed His sheep.  EVERY THING CHANGES ONCE WE HAVE BEEN WITH JESUS.

Keep the Son in your eyes, Robbie

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